Interested in establishing meal themes as part of your meal plan? Look no further! Below are 10 show stopping meal themes you’ll be able to incorporate into your life as soon as tonight!
Developing meal ideas for dinner can feel never-ending and complicated. Does anyone else think about what’s for dinner right when they wake up? And panic when you realize there’s no plan? That used to be me! But did you know planning dinner can be simple?
Listen here: I use a minimalist approach to meal planning that has worked in my house for years.
And part of that minimalist meal planning approach leaning on meal themes for dinner at least twice per week.
And saying theme nights are popular in my house is an understatement!
Related post: Minimalist Meal Planning for Moms Who Value Their Time
What is a Meal Theme?
A meal theme is a broad category that you assign to a meal. With the broad theme in mind, choose a specific dish within the theme to be the star.
For example, pizza night can mean:
1. each family member makes their own homemade pizza
2. you order pizza from a local pizzeria
3. you heat up a frozen pizza
The broad meal theme lays the groundwork for the specific meal that you end up choosing.
Kids especially love meal themes because it creates anticipation around dinner time and gives them something to look forward to.
My kids love to chant the name of the theme before dinner because it’s exciting for them.
Working with the same meal ideas week after week will also improve your creativity and ability to improvise. You’ll master the recipes and be able to tweak them based on what you have on hand or what’s in season.
The meal theme ideas below have endless ingredient combinations, so you don’t have to obsess or feel bored about what’s for dinner anymore.
What’s a Good Meal for Dinner Tonight?
10 ideas to spark your creativity!
1. Build your own burger night
Burger night almost makes itself because the toppings are endless. Some of the toppings we usually have are red onion, tomato, lettuce, fried egg, bacon, guacamole, fancy cheese, pickles, and condiments galore. Serve with a side salad and you have a solid meal. We eat mostly low carb in my house, so I serve burgers without buns, and that allows even more toppings to be piled on.
2. Salad night
Nearly anything can go on a salad, so this idea is for everyone. To create unique salads I make my own salad dressings, and my family goes crazy for them – mostly my homemade blue cheese dressing (which we also use for buffalo chicken wing night). Some toppings I use for salads are any leftover protein (beans, chicken, beef, etc), hard-boiled eggs, bacon, roasted vegetables, red onions, croutons, chunks of cheese, nuts. The list could go on forever.
3. Breakfast for dinner
Breakfast for dinner is a meal I make each week without fail because it’s so easy! For my family of 4, I scramble one dozen eggs, top with cheddar cheese, and serve with breakfast sausage and a simple side vegetable.
Here are a few other meal ideas for breakfast for dinner: eggs any style, pancakes, bacon, waffles. Top with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, or roasted vegetables.
4. Burrito bowl
Can you tell I like Mexican food? Burrito bowls are super easy and a total crowd-pleaser. Only a few ingredients turn a burrito bowl into a full meal. Use leftover proteins, beans, rice, vegetables, and salsas to put together this dinner in a flash.
Leftover night is always within my meal plan rotation. Many times the leftovers we have aren’t enough for an entire meal on their own. That’s why I like to save up leftovers for a few nights and then reheat them all up at once for a leftover buffet. This night is popular with my family because everyone gets to choose the leftovers from the meal that they most enjoyed, so everyone is happy. But I’m the happiest because the fridge is empty and no food is being wasted.
6. Taco/Nacho Night
Tacos and nachos are so versatile! Start with your protein and plan from there. The toppings are endless – cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, roasted vegetables, the list goes on!
7. Kids Choice
Ask what the kids want for dinner and make exactly that. You can even have the kids help prepare the meal, set the table, and clean up afterward. Your kids will love having a say and will be way less likely to complain about the food.
8. Sheet Pan Meal
Add your protein and vegetable to a sheet pan and roast! Not only will you create delicious and simple meals using this theme, but you’ll have very few dishes to clean! Count me in!
9. Pizza Night
Make your own pizza or order in from your favorite local pizzeria. Many grocery stores sell balls of raw pizza dough for a few dollars if you don’t want to make your own dough. Come up with fun toppings and create away!
10. Soup and Sandwich
Throw together a quick soup (chicken noodle, lentil, egg-lemon) and pair it with a sandwich for a super popular theme night.
For more information about meal planning, check out the post with my favorite meal planning strategy.
Take a few minutes and make a list of broad meal themes you can use over and over (use some of the above options, and you’ll be golden).
When it’s time to plan meals for the week, match a meal theme to a night of the week, and that’s it. Change the theme each week or keep it as a permanent fixture of your meal plan.
Set yourself up for success by incorporating meal themes into your meal plan – you won’t regret it.
And even if you repeat the same theme meals over and over, the actual dishes will always be different because of how customizable they are.
Which meal themes are a hit in your home? Share down below!